Habitat For Humanity York Region (Habitat York)
Nancy Van Kessel, Executive Director, and Kari Salovaara, Construction Manager
Habitat York is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity Canada and works with partner-families and volunteers throughout York Region and the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury.
TTheir mission is to provide safe, decent, and affordable homes for the working poor. They were founded in 2001 and built 11 homes in their first decade. Habitat York has set ambitious and inspiring goals to help families throughout York Region.
The need for affordable housing in York Region is truly staggering. There are approximately 7,000 families in need right now and an average wait time of 8 years for social housing. Habitat for Humanity is helping families achieve the dream of home ownership and break the cycle of poverty.
Land values in York Region have become so high that single-family homes are no longer affordable and to maximize resources Habitat York is focusing on higher-density builds.
A key component of Habitat York’s model is to build relationships with the local business community to serve more partner-families than would otherwise be possible. This is how their relationship with Can-Cro developed.
The Challenge: Habitat York’s Main Office in Newmarket
When Habitat York moved into their new office on Eagle Street in Newmarket in 2008 they knew that they were in for some major renovations. The 1859 heritage home is owned by the Town of Newmarket and a condition of Habitat York’s lease is to keep it in good repair. Since the priority for Habitat York is to direct money to their partner-families and because all donations go to that purpose they knew that they would need significant help to do the renovations on their office. They also knew that it would take several years to complete the project in order to stay within their budget — a budget that is generated solely by the Re-Store.
In the summer of 2011, after three years of occupancy, they saw that water-damage was inevitable and that it was time to tackle the eavestroughs, soffits and fascia. The house has a very large wrap-around porch and Construction Manager Kari Salovaara knew that it was too big a job and too technical for their volunteers to handle. He called Can-Cro.
Can-Cro is Habitat York’s #1 Choice for Eavestroughing and Siding
When Habitat York needed a professional exterior renovations company in 2009, Kari immediately thought of Mario and his crews at Can-Cro. He had met Mario several years earlier in his career as a general contractor when they tendered on a job. Kari had been impressed by their references and reputation and, as a result, when Kari joined Habitat York, Can-Cro was first on his list for siding and aluminum trim projects.
Building in Keswick and Georgina
Prior to the main office project in 2011, Can-Cro had helped Habitat York with two other builds. In 2009, Habitat York completed a heritage restoration in the Town of Markham. Kari recalls that this project presented some unique challenges including fake chimneys that a mason had to construct. It turned out that these needed water-proofing so while Can-Cro was installing the eavestroughs and fascia, they also created custom metal caps for the chimneys. To Kari, this was a convincing demonstration of their professionalism, versatility and craftsmanship.
In 2010, Habitat worked on a single family home in Keswick and Can-Cro installed the siding, soffits, fascia and eavestroughs, plus the custom trim on the porch. According to Kari, “it was great to deal with an all-in-one shop that could do everything. With projects this large, and always the unexpected details, it would be much harder to work with different trades on basically the same component: exterior cladding and aluminum trim.”
Nancy adds, “because we had worked with them previously, both for labour and material, we knew their quality and flexibility. We would always prefer to work with someone we know and someone we trust. So we called them and asked if they could help us.”
A testament to Can-Cro’s high skill levels and professionalism, the house in Keswick ended up with LEED Platinum Certification so there was quite a bit of exterior detailing. Kari explains, “the house did not have a solid-wood substrate for the insulated vinyl siding so the installers had to ensure that they were nailing only into the studs. Their accuracy was vital or the siding would have failed in months. Other contractors may not have been able to deal with that but the crew from Can-Cro took the extra time with measurements and marked it all. They took the time to make sure it was done right.” The house was the first Habitat for Humanity build in Canada to be LEED Platinum Certified and it won Habitat York the Green Build Award in 2010.
When asked why Habitat York chooses to work with Can-Cro on project after project, Nancy and Kari don’t hesitate, “They are our first choice.” Nancy continues, “Can-Cro has always looked to see what they could do for us and though it would be naïve for us to assume that they could always help in this economic climate, they have never let us down. We know that Can-Cro isn’t a huge company. They’re a locally-owned and locally-operated supplier that genuinely wants to give back to the community.”
The Results: Siding and Eavestroughing Projects
that Are As Smooth as Silk
According to Kari, “the project in Keswick went as smooth as silk, with no hiccups whatsoever. The guys were there, the materials were there, and they had their own equipment. It was an ideal installation over the better part of two weeks. It was almost a week for siding alone. The Markham project was also handled well.”
The project on Eagle Street took place over two days. Kari laughs as he remembers that “Can-Cro sent quite a large crew that took up the whole parking lot. It was so easy. I just told them what I needed done, and whoever was running the job that day got it done.”
It’s great to know that there is someone responsible for the job, on-site, all the time. Kari confesses, “Honestly, the reputation of this industry is for drama, and when you’re a charity you expect to be lower on the priority list. We’ve had that experience with some suppliers and it’s great to have that stress taken away. Our expectations with Can-Cro are always met and exceeded.”
Nancy confirms this feeling. “Kari is very particular, especially with visible details, and Can-Cro meets every one of his expectations. You really do get what you pay for. We’ve had challenges with some suppliers and the fact that Can-Cro is always there when they say they will be and that they do their work without babysitting exceeds our expectations.” Both Kari and Nancy are emphatic that their relationship with Can-Cro is a great addition to Habitat York’s operations.
The Conclusion: Another Successful Long-Term Relationship
When asked if there have been any issues with Can-Cro’s work, Kari explains, “siding, fascia and eavestroughing are not something people take time to worry about unless there’s a problem. Our partner-families have never come back to us with concerns about the work. And you know that they would if there was a problem. This is something we can’t just delegate to volunteer labour — it’s more specialized. And there have been no problems at all.”
Nancy adds, “Can-Cro has helped us with procuring materials, and has connected us with Roofmart to help us get materials at a discount, if not free. We know that they have used their reputation and their network to help us. And we want to make sure that the experience is win-win for everyone involved.”
Nancy concludes, “it’s safe to say that if we need professional siding or eavestroughing, they will always be our first choice based on their quality and reliability. We know that they won’t leave us high and dry and that the job will be handled correctly. It’s more than just a house-by-house relationship and we feel that we can count on them for the majority of the builds we do moving forward.”
Can-Cro has helped Habitat York ‘win’ on several of their projects in the past and is continuing this relationship into the future. They’ve donated labour and/or materials to Habitat For Humanity builds and renovations as part of their commitment to the community and they have taken those jobs just as seriously as they will yours.
Won’t it feel good to know that Can-Cro has got you covered?
Habitat for Humanity York Region was founded in 2001 with a mission to end the cycle of poverty through home ownership and affordable housing for families in need throughout York Region. To become involved, visit www.habitatyork.ca. Habitat Homes are built almost entirely by volunteers using building materials, land and money donated by individuals, businesses and various community groups.
Mario Bunjevcevic founded Can-Cro Installations Inc. in 1996 and has completed over 6,500 exterior cladding installations across the GTA and north to Bradford. Can-Cro works with homeowners, contractors, builders, and architects to design the best eavestroughing and siding systems in southern Ontario. To find out more, contact us and see how Can-Cro has got you covered for exterior renovations.